Big Idea Initiative in full Regular Force

Commander Blair Saltel, HMCS Calgary Commanding Officer, presents Petty Officer First Class Kai Tin with his Chief Engineering Level 4 certificate. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Commander Blair Saltel, HMCS Calgary Commanding Officer, presents Petty Officer First Class Kai Tin with his Chief Engineering Level 4 certificate. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A Marine Technician with HMCS Calgary has become the first naval reservist to receive his Chief Engineering Level 4 certification after making the transition to the Regular Force.

Petty Officer First Class Kai Tin was presented his certificate during divisions on the flight deck of Calgary May 8, presided over by Commander Blair Saltel, Calgary Commanding Officer,

“It’s great to have achieved this, and yes it took a lot of hard work to get here,” said PO1 Tin just prior to accepting his certification.

His certification is the end result of “The Big Idea Initiative”, a Royal Canadian Navy directive intended to re-align the Reserve Force with the Regular Force. It involves sailors keeping their equivalent ranks during the transition process to the Regular Force, but they must also meet the qualifications of whichever trade they are going into.

In presenting him his certificate, Cdr Saltel also presented PO1 Tin with his Canadian Forces’ Decoration clasp for 22 years of service. During the ceremony, the Commander spoke glowingly about PO1 Tin’s achievements while addressing the ship’s company.   

“Petty Officer First Class Tin was the first to embark down the path of a new initiative and I’m sure he had to jump through a lot of hoops, some of which were moving, to get where he is,” said Cdr Saltel. “Now we can all applaud him for his success and his dedication in achieving his goals.  I hope what he takes away from us [Calgary] is positive in our support for his efforts and that he inspires other MARTECHS to achieved what he has accomplished.”

PO1 Tin says he took a less traditional learning path in working towards his certification. Instead of relying on ship systems and training manuals, he rolled up his sleeves and worked directly from the engine room. His self-imposed on-the-job training included performing such tasks as operating machinery, performing basic maintenance, and closely studying how all of machinery works together.

“It’s not the normal way to learn but for me it’s easier to learn things hands-on,” said PO1 Tin. “The trade manuals and advice from more experienced tradespeople was valuable to, but nothing compares to getting your hands a little dirty and getting the experience and knowledge yourself.”

PO1 Tin, 39, was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Vancouver in 1994. He joined the Naval Reserves in 1996 and worked part-time while also studying at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

“After I finished the two-year program, I started sailing full time with the Naval Reserve in 1998, until I joined the Regular Force at the end of 2015,” he says.

He spent 17 years working in the engine rooms and control rooms of the smaller, less complicated Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel before making the transition to Calgary.

PO1 Tin is the first former RCN reservist to attain this level of qualification on this coast. On the East Coast, Petty Officer First Class Keegan Dawson, a Marine Systems Engineer with HMCS Fredericton, received his certification two days after PO1 Tin.

At least two other Marine Technicians from Esquimalt are currently working on their certification and will likely be presented with their certificates in the coming months.

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